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Exp Brain Res. 2003 Aug;151(3):356-63. Epub 2003 Jun 12.

Effect of target-distractor similarity on FEF visual selection in the absence of the target.

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Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 111 21st Avenue South, 301 Wilson Hall, Nashville, TN 37240, USA.


We tested the hypothesis that frontal eye field (FEF) visual activity integrates visual information with a template of a target by examining whether a target that is not present in a search display influences the target selection in FEF. Neural activity was recorded in FEF of macaque monkeys performing visual search for a singleton target defined by color or direction of motion. The target remained constant throughout, but not across experimental sessions. Trials with distractors dissimilar to the target were interleaved with trials with distractors similar to the target. The hypothesis was tested by measuring the magnitude of activity in randomly interleaved trials with the target absent and only distractors in the display. We found that the response to the distractors was significantly greater when presented with displays consisting of distractors that resembled the absent target than when presented with displays consisting of distractors most different from the absent target. The influence of target-distractor similarity on FEF activity was also observed when the target was present, as reported previously. These data suggest that a template of the absent target can influence the selection process in FEF. This provides more direct evidence that FEF integrates visual information and knowledge of the target to determine the goal of a saccade.

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